In Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair Frida Kahlo’s usual lively and saturated palette is supplanted by neutral hues, her Tehuana dress by an ill-fitting man’s suit, and her plaited hair by strangely sentient locks that wriggle up from the floor and around her chair. Nevertheless, the painting remains unmistakably Kahlo’s. In 1940, in the wake of a divorce from her husband, the artist Diego Rivera, Kahlo turned to self-portraiture to express her deepest emotional and psychological impulses, and completed a painting inscribed with the lyrics of a popular song: “Look, if I loved you it was for your hair. Now that you’re without it, I no longer love you.”
The work contains an array of influences and references that encompass both popular culture and details from the artist’s private life. An essay by the curator Jodi Roberts situates the painting in the context of the Mexican Revolution, the Surrealist tradition, and Kahlo’s history and ongoing construction of her artistic identity. 48pp. 35 illus.